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First month of novel; a look back

August 1, 2013

It is now just over one month since I began my latest attempt at writing a novel.  Originally, I had hoped to average 1000 words a day; as things turned out, I’m currently just short of 850 a day, but I’m still very happy how things have gone so far.  If things keep going like this, then I should still have most of my first draft (if not the whole thing) done before the end of the summer.

A bit like this, I hope

A bit like this, I hope.

One issue I ran into early on was with conservation of detail.  My first chapter spent ages introducing a character of limited importance, only to lurch into my intended “hook” scene a whole thousand words later than I wanted.  At the same time, a couple of important characters and concepts didn’t come up until far too late. The problem here was that I hadn’t considered how long any givens scene would be, which made my outline look far more streamlined than it actually was.  Needless to say, I’ll remember this for any of my future endeavors.

Another thing I’ve been considering lately is the issue of my novel’s inciting incident.  Essentially, the inciting incident is the moment that spurns your protagonist into action; for more details, I’d suggest reading the links at the bottom of this post.  Reading up on this has led me to conclude that I don’t really have a proper “incident” so much as I have a series of little things which, when combined, force the protagonist to realize that something is wrong .  I do have a “hook” scene in my first chapter, but I’m not convinced that this will be enough on its own.   I’ll have a good think on this before I make any firm decisions on changes, but I’m glad to have read about it.

It is clear that I still have much to learn about this novel-writing business between now and my first redraft.  Personally, I reckon I’m more than up for the challenge.  Here’s to a second month of work on the novel.

PS – A big congrats is in order to everyone who participated in Julnowrimo this year.  I didn’t actually take part, personally, though I would have done had I found out about it a bit sooner.  I hope everyone’s had as much fun on their WIPs as I’ve been doing lately.

Further Reading on inciting incidents

Inciting Incidents and Why They Rock Your Plot

Creating an Inciting Incident Worthy of Praise

Writing Your Inciting Incident



From → Blogging, Writing

  1. Congrats again on a successful month. I’ve learnt a lot about novel writing from my own wip. When it comes to writing, you can read how-to books and blog tips but nothing can trump learning by doing. I’m noticing that my chapters might be too long but that’s a minor detail. I just need to get it on the page. There will be nothing to edit unless I write.

    • Agreed: in the end, the best way to learn about writing is to simply keep writing. I’ve been noticing all kinds of issues with my WIP lately, but I’m confident that they will be resolved at some point.

      Chapter length isn’t really something I’ve considered, really. Some books have absolutely massive chapters, so I wouldn’t worry if I were you.

      Thanks for stopping over 🙂

  2. 850 a day is pretty respectable. I would not slow down to second guess any part of what you have written. Also don’t worry about hooks etc. All this will come as you develop the story. From experience I have found that little things will come out of dialog and other scenes that will cause you to go back and punch things up. (you will giggle when you do it) Like any good strategist knows, winning the battle is a matter of taking ground not making camp. KEEP PUSHING AHEAD. ooo sorry about the passion there.

    • John, great insight and succinctly put. I find myself at constant odds in wanting to tweak what I’ve done vs. forging ahead. One of the most important things I’ve learnt about myself whilst writing is that I need to be aware of my need to do both, but that I need to keep the tweaking in check. Like you say, nothing beats that moment when you write something that suddenly makes something thousands of words back sparkle with magic. That’s when I allow myself to go back and tweak. Then I get back to leading the charge!

    • Pushing ahead is indeed the plan for me. I’m hoping to get the first draft out before doing any editing whatsoever, meaning that I expect the first draft to look exceedingly rough. Sounds like I have a lot to look forward to when I come to redrafting, from what you’ve said here.

      Thanks for stopping over 🙂

      • Well I am 80,000 words into my second and I found the idea of editing a task that needs full concentration. You can’t create and edit at the same time. One will stifle the other.

  3. Congratulations! They say if you do something regularly for three weeks it becomes a habit. I think you’ve official become a habitual writer.

  4. Congrats as well. Cracking achievement. If I may, a question… Have you got a writing schedule? I’ve been trying to adopt one – figure out a way to get regular time to sit down and plough away. But its more frustrating than I thought as the world keeps intruding (or I’m allowing it to intrude…). Any inspiration greatly received 🙂

    • To be perfectly honest, I have few commitments until September and so have thus far managed without a schedule. Essentially, I start writing when I feel like I want to write (usually anywhere between 11am and 2pm) and then keep writing until I hit my daily target. If the feeling hasn’t struck me by mid-afternoon, then I start writing and hope it strikes during the session; usually, that happens pretty quickly. In either case, I make sure to have drunk at least 3-4 cups of tea before I get started.

      I’ve been thinking of trying to my sleeping hours to the point where I can do my writing in the early morning by the time September comes around. Whether I have the will to do something like that remains to be seen, though.

  5. Agreeing with all the comments, well done! 850’s pretty good going, to achieve consistently – and 850 a day would be over 310,000 in a year!! I’m slogging through revision and editing at the moment, which lacks the oomph of word count motivation to keep going, but love the feeling of being on the downhill slope.
    Do you feel like you’re about 1/3 through the book? (Assuming your ‘summer’ ends in September?)

    • Thanks :). I’m really hoping I can keep it up. Congrats on getting to the editing stage, by the way; can’t say I’ve ever gotten that far, myself.

      You assume correctly about my summer. Unfortunately, I reckon I’m slightly less and a third of the way through at the moment. I’m not convinced that I’ll get the whole thing done over the summer anymore, but I should definitely get a good chunk of it onto the page 🙂

  6. Getting to the finish, however rough the draft, means you have a bona-fide (spelling?) novel to tidy up. Keep up the good work!

    • Agreed :). The sooner I get the first draft out of the way, the sooner I can begin work on actually making the novel good.

      Thanks for commenting!

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